So, autumn has finally arrived – days are getting shorter, temperatures are dropping and we could all get quite depressed about this. But there is definitely a silver lining – ‘King of the Pop-Ups’ and TV chef (This Morning) Jimmy Garcia has returned for the winter season with another cracker of a pop-up restaurant at the Lodge in Clapham. For four months, until the end of February 2017, you can enjoy the Après-ski ambience of a mountain chalet with warming winter cocktails and wonderful Alpine inspired food in South London. So you better check your diaries, get your skates on (excuse the pun) and get your bookings in soon, because if the last two incarnations of the Jimmy’s The Lodge restaurants are anything to go by, places will fill up fast.
On Monday we were invited to see the transformation The Lodge has undergone for ourselves and to try some (or most!) of the food on the new winter menu. We had the most excellent evening.
The chalet is beautifully decorated, staying away from the kitsch you often find in similar enterprises, there’s lots of wood, seasonal foliage, warm colours, monochrome photography, flickering lit candles and a just a few bits of antique winter sports equipment dotted around, like a pair of wooden skis (how did people manage to get down the mountains with those?). It’s cosy and welcoming and you almost expect to see the snow falling in thick flakes outside the windows. The staff are lovely and attentive and certainly contribute to the ambience and atmosphere of being among friends.
This year Jimmy has partnered with Verbier, the Swiss ski resort, to bring you another winter of Swiss cheese, Swiss wines and Morand liquors. There are two new chefs this year who will be working alongside Jimmy, Ranulph Lees and Alex Cox, former chefs at Nathan Outlaws Michelin Star restaurant, who between them have created an extensive new and exciting menu of small plates, sharers and, of course, the signature fondue.
The menu is a foodie’s paradise, using fresh seasonal produce from Jimmy’s trusted independent suppliers and it features everything from snacks and small plates of creamy Whipped Smoked Cod’s Roe on Toast, delicately flavoured Gin Cured Salmon with Horseradish Yoghurt, a beautiful lean Ham Hock Terrine with crunchy Piccalilli, an excellent charcuterie platter with products from Asturia in Spain and colourful Beetroot, Orange & Hazelnut Salad to Spiced Brown Butter Cauliflower with Pistachios, as well as shared mains of Baked Turbot with Clams & Green Butter, Côte de Boeuf with Béarnaise Sauce, and The Lodge’s signature dishes – Fondue. This year you have the choice between the classic Swiss Fondue and one prepared with the finest West country cheeses, maybe with the Wild Boar and Apple Sausages. We got to try the Swiss Fondue which was perfect, just like it should be in taste (made with three different Swiss cheeses) and consistency.
All this is followed up by a delicious selection of the team’s winter desserts, for example the seriously good Chocolate Mousse with Clementine Marmalade, Lime Ice Cream & Pistachio Nuts (the perfect mix of sweet and citrus flavours) or an indulgent Paris Brest with Almond Cream & Chocolate Sauce (think giant profiterole!).
Those coming for the drinks at The Lodge won’t be disappointed, as the popular hot cocktail menu will also be back with a new and improved bar menu and extensive cocktail list ( both hot and cold) – including the popular buttered rum, mulled wine and cider and, my favourite, hot kings ginger, apple and mint mojito, to name just a few. I also loved the Toffee Apple Vodka shots and the Morand liquors.
On Sundays Jimmy will be doing his famous sharing board roasts with bottomless bubbles and 2-4-1 Bloody Mary’s and throughout November every Sunday night there will be a quiz with the winner going into a season draw to win an amazing trip to Verbier, alongside other great prizes.
Jimmy has also created a new groups menu to allow groups to sample the best the menu has to offer while keeping things simple. Group bookings of 9 or more can be booked through the website.
There is also a private room available upstairs which sits 17 people comfortably, any more than that and it gets a bit cosy.
THE LODGE IN CLAPHAM:
The Lodge, 409 Clapham Road, SW9 9BT (entrance is around the corner on Landor Road)
Open from 5.30pm Tuesday – Sunday
Nearest tube: Clapham North, nearest rail: Clapham High Street
Facebook // TheLodgeClapham
Twitter // @TheLodgeClapham
Instagram // @jimmyspopup